Being a bit of a surf enthusiast and a beginner surfer, having an affinity for waves, and the ocean in general, is a given for me. As a toddler, I spent some time sailing with my dad on his merchant ships and some of my earliest memories are of being at sea. Naturally, I get a little heady when I think about the ocean. If you’re a bit of an ocean nut like myself, read on to find some amazing wave tattoo designs and ideas. Maybe even learn how waves work and how to not die when having fun in the ocean (though I’d recommend reading separate dedicated safety manuals for this).
Meaning of Wave Tattoo Designs
Why does the ocean have waves? Waves are created by energy passing through water, causing it to move in a circular motion. Water does not actually travel in waves. Waves transmit energy, not water, across the ocean and if not obstructed by anything, they have the potential to travel across an entire ocean basin.
A wave tattoo usually signifies the wearer’s love for the ocean. It can also be interpreted as a symbol of immense benign power.
Ideas For Wave Tattoo Designs
The Japanese have a separate sub-genre of art dedicated solely to waves. The art that you see in the previous two pictures is from this same art form.
A rad painting of a girl’s head morphing into a giant wave. The colors here are ecstatic. These are pretty much the same colors as the sunset at an exotic beach.
Different wave-glyphs for your tattoo inspiration.
An old Japanese wave painting.
More Japanese-style wave glyphs. These designs aren’t strictly realistic-looking but are very artistic.
Some more conceptual wave designs.
Another collection of wave motifs for you to draw inspiration from.
More waves for you to look at. Let these images percolate in your head or maybe the artist’s head.
Where Should You Get Wave Tattoo Designs
It’s your wave tattoo, you get to put it wherever you want to but here are some run-of-the-mill suggestions-
- Ankle (these are pretty popular)
- Wrist (these too)
- Finger Spaces (saw at least one of these as well)
- Hands (yep!)
- Shoulder Blades (definitely could work)
- Behind the Ears (this too)
- Chest (why not?)
- Back (yessir!)
List of Wave Tattoo Designs & Meanings
- Ancient Wave Painting
This shoulder piece has an ancient painting-style wave tattoo. Reminds me of the illustrations from my copy of The Adventures of Ulysses.
Tom Cruise’s 2013 sci-fi thriller Oblivion had a giant space prism hanging from the sky. This tattoo looks like it draws inspiration from the movie. I find it really satisfying to watch the water move in an angular glass object.
- The Line-Wave
A simple upper back tattoo. You can’t really expect a surfer to have a realistic wave tattooed on them, it would be a bit of an overkill.
- Side Torso Realistic Wave
The shades of blue and white are going really well against the light skin of the wearer. The placement is also good. A very neat idea for a side torso tattoo.
- Ankle Wave
A beautiful giant wave on an ankle. Notice the slight slant the entire piece has.
- The One From The Cover Art
The artwork at the beginning of this article is adorned by this wearer. The original painting is of Japanese origin.
- Forearm Wave
A watercolor-ey wave done on the forearm. It looks a bit disconnected though.
- A Wave In A Ring
Pretty much the exact opposite of the previous tattoo. This one looks nice because it has been given a definite boundary.
- The Triangle And The Wave
A cute little back tattoo. The waves are the same as the Japanese glyphs discussed in the “ideas…” section.
- If Beckham Was A Surfer
This heavy tattoo reminds me of David Beckham and his tattoos. It is just so dense. I do dig though. A very nice idea for those who are more committed to treating their body as their canvas.
- The Postcard
Hmmm… Not sure what the role of the electric tower is but the colors are fun to look at.
- Wave In A Ring (2)
The Japanese wave art from before enclosed in a ring.
- Back Forearm Wave
A different design for these waves on this tattoo. The edges are smoother and the shades follow a very homogenous fade-in and fade-out.
- Back Shoulder Wave
A back shoulder wave tattoo, like some of the several we have seen before.
- The Secret Wave
The secret wave. Kinda like the secret spot, every group of surfers has which they only reveal to their closest aides. A central wave tattoo, makes me wish I had breasts and the pain resistance to get a tattoo. Too much information? Sorry.
- Side Torso Wave (2)
Another side torso wave tattoo. The wearer is doing some real justice to it.
- Oval Window Wave
People seem to dig this wave, I dig it too but now I’ve probably seen it too many times.
- Monochrome and Curvy
A back of the arm motif with simple curvy lines and light shading. This is a pretty tattoo.
- Small Wrist Wave
A cute little reminder of your affinity for the ocean.
- A Small Scene
The same wave from the Japanese artwork yet another time.
And there you have it! A bunch of neat wave tattoo designs and ideas. I’ve kept the cute little single-line wave tattoo ideas out of this list because they were rather self-evident. Oh, I just remembered I had to tell you guys how not to die having fun at the beach. So there’s a thing called rip currents, basically, you have to stay out of them or they suck you into the ocean. Go read up on them and go look at some waves for some inspiration.
Aight folks! See ya!